Clemmie Hambro's gardening week 27th jan

The RHS has special plans to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in a way that will leave a legacy for generations to come

So here we are in 2012 and what a monster of a year it is going to be. It is the year of the Olympics and even better – the Diamond Jubilee. I am in a permanent state of pride that we have such a magnificent Queen who has reached this milestone. I have to sit on my hands to prevent myself flinging out the bunting in a premature fashion even as I type. I've already given my girls pretty commemorative pots and my own mother has given me a limited-edition loving cup. You can buy them in the Buckingham Palace shop, and I highly recommend them. By the time the event happens, there will be a flood of commemorative items on the market of varying quality and design. But to my thinking, you want to have the real McCoy to pass on to loved ones.

Anyhow, to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee, the RHS has teamed up with and will be giving away trees to over 2,000 schools who are signed up with the RHS Campaign For School Gardening. Jacky Chave, RHS Strategic Schools Manager, said: 'Gardening in schools is a fantastic way to engage children in learning; not just in science but in every subject. We wanted to mark The Queen's Diamond Jubilee 2012 in a way that would leave a legacy for all. These 10,000 trees will do that, providing enjoyment for generations to come, while supporting local wildlife and ecosystems.'

The RHS Campaign for School Gardening was launched in 2007, and has 14,500 schools registered, which means that it's reaching over 2.5 million children, and it can't be underestimated how important this campaign is.

A report carried out in the summer of 2010 showed how getting children outside and gardening had extraordinarily beneficial results. Children learn about a healthier way of living and eating, they learn about teamwork and communication as well as wildlife and sustainability. Gardening seems to boost self-esteem and is a gentle way of teaching resilience and the ability to try again when some-thing doesn't work out.

Most important in my view, given the riots in the summer and our increasingly insular, urban lifestyles, gardening helps children learn about taking responsibility for their environment. If they feel that they have a stake in their surroundings and take pride in it, if they understand the importance of caring for it and the role of the community in it, then surely this can only be a positive thing. And something that would be almost impossible to communicate in a classroom. So, Schools For Gardening really is a fantastic operation. And now it wants to mark the Diamond Jubilee by giving away (well, actually it costs £5.50 – but practically giving away) five native trees that have been selected for their beauty and heritage. They are wild cherry (Prunus avium), field maple (Acer campestre), silver birch (Betula pendula), common hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) and crab apple (Malus sylvestris). Personally I can't think of nicer trees to be growing in my school garden, or of a more lasting and relevant commemorative gesture. I'm sure that Her Majestywill heartily approve.

However, the offer only lasts until 29 February, so if you haven't registered yet, just pop on to the website, sign your school up, then apply. Once you're registered, all the information regarding the trees is there. Good luck!

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Sarah Langton-Lockton on her allotment

The seed catalogues have been piling up on the kitchen table, some of them by now distinctly scruffy. This is because Mimi the cat, despite a proliferation of nesting places, including, briefly to her taste, acquired on the advice of a friend versed in cat psychology, a tiny cardboard courgette box, likes to dry out on a nice warm pile of paper when she dashes in from a rain-lashed garden.

I love seed catalogues and spend hours poring over them in the winter months when it takes moral fibre to venture on to the plot. One can while away many an afternoon in a warm kitchen, planning happily for the next growing season while wind and rain rage outside. My favourite catalogue is from Simpson's Seeds, handy and compact, A5 in format and without photographs, except on the back and inside covers. This is just enough to make one long to get sowing again, but without distracting one from the concise, elegant and knowledgeable text. Simpson's Seeds is a small, family-run company based in west Wiltshire. Their philosophy is to grow and try out as much of their range as possible. Flavour is the priority.

Simpson's Seeds specialises in tomatoes and chillies, but also has a carefully selected range of all the vegetables one wants to grow, and always a few new things to add variety. I am devoted to their plantlets, which arrive in the post as healthy little plants, bursting out of their jiffy pellets, packed six to a little green plastic greenhouse and meticulously labelled. Many suppliers now do young vegetable plants, mostly in large quantities. Simpson's is the first and only, as far as I know, to let you buy one of whatever you fancy, as long as you buy six plants in total, or multiples of six. Plants are sent out from mid-March to mid-April, or from mid-April to mid-May; customers are now emailed when plants are being sent so they can be at home when they arrive. Plants are sent out once their true leaves have formed, and although often small on arrival, will forge ahead when potted on and placed in a greenhouse or cold frame.

Although I am trying to practise what in Cranford is described as 'elegant economy', my self-control is swiftly eroded where seeds and plants are concerned. I have allowed myself two packs of plantlets this year, hardly exorbitant at £1.35 per plant. My order includes two plants of artichoke 'Romanesco': the purple heads are delicious when they are so small they can be eaten whole. These are destined for the big bed that flanks two sides of the greenhouse. Previously, this was my raspberry bed – a mistake, since the raspberries threw up suckers everywhere, including in the greenhouse. Room has been found for the raspberries elsewhere, and I have a big new space to plant up with soft fruit, perennial vegetables, and flowers – to attract beneficial insects and to cut for the house.

My order continues with two aubergine plants – 'Slim Jim', with its bunches of delicious mini fruit and a new one, 'Kaberi' F1, another baby-fruited variety with dark purple fruit. 'Tolli's Sweet Italian' peppers I shall grow again from seed, but the reliable 'Cucino F1' mini cucumber and a new one, 'Galileo F1', are on the plantlet list.

Heavens, I've run out of space, so the excitements of my tomato order will have to wait.

Simpson's Seeds: